The start of a new school year creates excitement, anxiety among the new faces on campus. And it’s not just the students who share those emotions. Many of those new faces are first-time teachers.
In a fast-growing district like Leander ISD, the number of teachers grows along with the number of new students each year.
Earlier this week, new teachers at Camacho Elementary School were hard at work setting up classrooms, learning bus routes, training with LISD staff and making new connections during the district’s “Back-to-School Training Day.” The event provided new teachers the opportunity to learn about the school’s culture and mission, participate in team-building activities, as well as take a bus ride to the school’s boundaries.
Among those new teachers at Camaco Elementary were 22-year-old Elinore Ramos of Cedar Park and 23-year-old Bailey Ayres of Round Rock. Both are Texas-natives who are preparing for their first year of teaching and spent Monday learning about their school as well as meeting other new teachers preparing for their first year at LISD.
“There’s a lot of emotions,” said Ayres, a recent graduate of Texas A&M University-Commerce. “Becoming a teacher was something I was trying to work out for so long and now it’s finally here. It’s really exciting. We’ve gotten to learn a lot about the culture and dynamics of Camacho and what they stand for and what they need. I’m looking forward to learning more about that.”
Helping Ayres unpack supplies and materials for her classroom, Ramos said she shares the excitement, but is also a bit anxious about the first day of school.
“Yeah, I’m a mixture of excited and nervous,” said Ramos, who recently graduated from Texas State. “Definitely coming in here for my first day, I was nervous, but as the day has gone on, it’s been so awesome. We’ve gotten to do activities and meet other teachers so I really appreciated that. It shows us what the school community is like.”
The two are also looking forward to letting their careers unfold and learning as much as they can from students and staff. Ramos will teach second grade math and science and Ayres will teach all subjects in a self-contained first grade classroom.
“I’m looking forward to learning from other teachers, no matter what grade,” Ramos explained. “I want to see what I can bring into my classroom since it’s my first year. I’m going to get good practice and see what I can bring to this school district.”
Camacho Elementary has a distinct focus on STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, and encourages collaborative projects among students on its campus.
“I’m so excited about integrating STEM and project-based learning into the curriculum because it’s huge here,” said Ayres. “Teaching was a dream for me and now it’s real so I’ve definitely learned a lot more about what teaching actually entails. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I knew it was something I wanted to do.”
The school is named after registrar Christine Camacho, an LISD registrar who passed away from cancer in 2013. Camacho has about 70 instructional staff members, with a full staff enrollment of 760 members in its employ. There are 40 classrooms from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
The school also has numerous support staff including eight special programs, five special education teachers and 10 instructional assistants.
“With project-based learning and STEM, it’s not just that you give the kids a worksheet, they’re actually doing things and getting into their work,” said Ramos. “In college, we learned a lot about project-based learning and it’s not often you get to work so closely with that concept.”
The first day of school for LISD students is Aug. 16.